Save 25 Church Road! Your chance to preserve local heritage



The Picture Palace Campaign would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been in touch with offers of support for the campaign and given us views on how the campaign should go forward. We have not forgotten you and we will be in touch directly very soon. Please bear with us!

We would also like to thank the huge number of people who came along to talk to us at the Crystal Palace Overground Festival in August.


Over 400 people took part in our survey at the Festival, which is fantastic! The feedback has been really positive and encouraged us to continue to campaign for a cinema in Crystal Palace, however long it takes.

An overwhelming majority of you told us that you want the campaign’s focus to remain on restoring a cinema at 25 Church Road because you recognise the heritage of the building and its potential if used correctly to be a key cultural anchor for the town centre, a fantastic vehicle for local meaning and identity, and a unique economic asset for Crystal Palace.

Over 70% also told us that you want the campaign to continue to object to Kingsway International Christian Centre’s (KICC) proposed uses for 25 Church Road because they fall outside of the D2 “Entertainment” planning use. You also told us that many of you would object too because together we fought hard to retain the entertainment use.


KICC has applied to Bromley council for planning permission to carry out external works at 25 Church Road.

We all know that KICC has continually failed to consult or take any regard of our views or explore with us which D2 uses would “most benefit the whole community”, despite repeated requests.

We believe this failure to consult has contributed to KICC misunderstanding the importance and contribution of this landmark building to the Conservation Area and the town centre.

KICC’s proposals include making substantial and ill-considered alterations to the art deco facade of the building, alterations which in the words of Bromley’s Advisory Panel for Conservation Areas “fail to respect the architectural integrity of the building”.

KICC is also proposing to install a huge advertising hoarding on the side of the building which will also be detrimental to the integrity of the building and harm the conservation area.

25 Church Road is the best and only example in Crystal Palace of an art deco cinema. It has architectural and historical merit, particularly in its detailing. It is part of our shared heritage.

KICC has a unique opportunity to restore 25 Church Road back to its “former glory” and make it a showpiece and benchmark for quality for Church Road and the town centre. Once the building has been badly restored another piece of our heritage will have been lost forever!

This is why we are asking Bromley council to refuse these applications, and would also urge you to object to them too. The latest applications appear to be part of the final preparations by KICC to commence operations at 25 Church Road, following significant internal structural work.

We are aware that other local groups share our concerns and will also be objecting.

The proposed external works include:

1. Ref. No: 11/01541/FULL1 – Canopy and alterations to front elevation including external decorations colour scheme; Comments should be sent to the planning offices at Bromley Civic Centre by 21 September

2. Ref. No: 11/01663/ADV – Non illuminated wall mounted advertisement display board; Comments should be sent to the planning offices at Bromley Civic Centre by 14 September

3. Ref. No: 11/01537/FULL1 – Soft and Hard landscaping including benches and bicycle stands. Comments should be sent to the planning offices at Bromley Civic Centre by 13 September

To view the application documentation please follow the links above.

We would ask you to look closely at all three applications, including the detailed drawings which accompany them, as they appear to give a far more candid view of what KICC plans to do with the building than the actual applications indicate.


For the reasons we set out above and below we believe there are very good reasons to object, both as a matter of principle and on planning and conservation grounds. In particular we believe it is imperative that Crystal Palace residents and traders use the opportunity to object as a means:

(a) To mark disapproval of KICC’s failure to recognise the importance of this landmark building to our town centre; and

(b) To send a clear message that we expect KICC to honour its promise of consulting with local residents.

The campaign of objection should continue until such time as KICC recognises that our views and wishes can no longer be ignored and a full and proper community consultation must be undertaken.

The PPC and the CPTPG are preparing detailed objections to these applications but we would urge you to demonstrate the strength of feeling by sending Bromley your own views.


25 Church Road sits within Bromley’s Crystal Palace Park Conservation Area and is directly opposite Croydon’s Upper Norwood Triangle Conservation Area.

The PPC and the CPTPG have always believed that this building forms an integral part of the historic character of the town centre and that its architectural heritage should be preserved and enhanced. It is our shared heritage.

Moreover we believe that 25 Church Road has a unique and vital contribution to play in the future vitality and viability of the Triangle and the objectives of Bromley, Croydon and Lambeth to promote regeneration here.

That view reflects the fact that 25 Church Road is the only large D2 entertainment venue in the town centre and that it is a landmark building with a long history of providing local entertainment from its roots as a 1920s art deco cinema through to its use as a bingo hall as recently as 2009.

In December 2009 Bromley Council recognised the overwhelming strength of community feeling that retaining 25 Church Road’s D2 “Entertainment” planning status was vital to maintaining and enhancing the vitality of the Upper Norwood Triangle. In particular Bromley refused the application by KICC for a change of use for 25 Church Road from D2 Public Entertainment to D1 Religious Worship because it would involve

“the loss of an important entertainment and leisure use … which would result in a reduction in the range of facilities within the town centre detrimental to the proper functioning of the daytime and evening economy and harmful to the social cultural and economic characteristics of the area”.

The importance of maintaining the historic character of our town centre, whilst enhancing economic and cultural vitality, is also echoed by the planning policies of Croydon and Lambeth councils and the conservation area status they have designated to the rest of the Triangle.


Like many thousands of you, the PPC and CPTPG committees hoped that the contribution of 25 Church Road to both the local architectural heritage and the cultural and economic vitality of the Triangle would continue under the ownership of City Screen.

Whilst that hope received a blow when City Screen was outbid for 25 Church Road by KICC, (if City Screen had been successful we would have had a cinema up and running by now), we later came to believe that KICC itself had also come to recognise the critical importance of 25 Church Road to regeneration when it confirmed in June 2010 that it would not be lodging an appeal against Bromley’s decision to refuse change of use. We were encouraged in that belief by KICC’s indication in public statements and press coverage that it “did not wish to be seen as “fighting” the very community that it wishes to serve”, that it always intended for the building to have a large element of community use and that it was considering a variety of future building use options which would “most benefit the whole community.”

Critically, KICC also indicated that it would be releasing a fuller statement of its plans for the building and that it would consult with the community over those plans in order to identify uses in line with its current entertainment use as stipulated by D2. This might include a cinema showing family films as well as amateur dramatics and concerts, including Christian music.

We hoped that this marked the beginning of a dialogue, something which the leader of Bromley Council, Stephen Carr, had also encouraged KICC to enter into.

To our immense disappointment, after another 14 months, the indication that KICC intended to consult with the community and explore which D2 uses would “most benefit the whole community” appears to be nothing more than an empty gesture.

The suggested consultation has never materialised and KICC appears totally unwilling to discuss its plans to use the building for D2 entertainment purposes or to clarify its intentions by putting them up to any form of public scrutiny. KICC has failed to take up invitations by our three local MPs to meet with them and discuss the very real concerns of their constituents and in our view has wholly failed to act upon the guidance of their regulator, the Charity Commission, which expressly recommends to charities that

“Some charity projects involving the acquisition of land arouse opposition locally, even to the extent of active hostility. Where this is likely, trustees are advised to plan carefully in advance, to consult widely and to provide full information about their proposals and the reasons for them”.

More worryingly, despite the failure to secure a change of use to religious worship, it was reported earlier this year that KICC had indicated to our Town Centre Manager that, amongst other uses, it was still considering hosting religious services in the building. Whilst this was later strenuously denied by KICC, it is notable that KICC held its first religious concert in Crystal Palace Park this summer labelled ‘A New Beginning” and have now revealed that it intends to rename 25 Church Road as “The Open Door”, a name linked to KICC by a new charity, incorporated in March 2011, called The KICC Open Door, whose express purpose is the advancement of the Christian religion and the furtherance of the charitable works.


If you agree with us that the current state of affairs is wholly unacceptable, we encourage you to object. We have set out some suggested grounds of objection below and would please urge residents and traders to:

WRITE an objection however brief

EMAIL your objections to: ; or

SEND your objections to: Town Planning, Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley BR1 3UH

NB: Please remember to include your name and address and to quote the relevant planning application reference numbers above.

COPY your objection to your ward councillors and Member of Parliament.

• Contact details can be found on our website:

COPY your objection to the Picture Palace Campaign: and Crystal Palace Triangle Planning Group:


In the next few months we will also be inviting local residents to mark their displeasure and objection through other means such as objecting to any application by KICC for a public entertainment licence and another peaceful protest outside 25 Church Road to mark the commencement of KICC’s operations.

If you are interested in participating in these actions please let us know by contacting us.






Please feel free to cut and paste those grounds you agree with into your objection or use your own words – we know how fantastic the community is at making its voice heard.


I am writing to express my very strong objections to all three planning applications for the following reasons:


Objection Point 1

The applications should only be considered against the context of a full description by the applicant of the proposed use of the building. The plans reveal that the applicant has incorporated an office, waiting room and meeting room into the internal layout of the building together with a bookshop.

How are these connected to the D2 “Entertainment” use of the building?

The plans are very similar to the applicant’s planning application for change of use to D1 Place of Worship, which was objected to by over 3,000 residents and refused by the council in 2009. The applicant originally indicated that it intended to relocate its south London administrative headquarters to 25 Church Road as part of that application.

The plans suggest that the applicant is intending a mixed use of the building which it does not having planning permission for.

Objection Point 2

The applicant has still, despite previous promises to consult with the community and publish its plans, wholly failed to set out the nature of its proposed D2 Entertainment use including hours of operation, numbers in the building, number of events and what those events will be.

In those circumstances it is impossible to properly consider whether the ultimate use of the building is exclusively D1 use, mixed use or exclusively D2 use and how the current proposals inter-relate to that proposed use and are necessary to support that use.


Objection Point 3

The applicant acknowledges, at paragraph 2.2 of the Design and Access statement accompanying application no: 11/01541, that the building has “lost the appeal of its former glory”.

The quality of the external appearance of 25 Church Road has been allowed to deteriorate in recent years, with the external appearance slowly but surely incorporating poor design and poor quality of materials wholly out of keeping with the conservation area status and architectural heritage of this art deco building.

The previous introduction of uPVC windows, three large billboards and an ugly external canopy all fail to reflect the grandeur of the building used as a cinema at the height of the Hollywood cinema years in the 1940s and 1950s.

The current applications do nothing to reverse this decline. If anything they accelerate it by destroying the symmetry and architectural form of the building’s entrance, introducing an additional uPVC window and additional street clutter and visual intrusion from an advertising board.

The proposals will harm the character and appearance of the building and the conservation area


Objection Point 4 – Proposed alterations to Canopy and entrance

25 Church Road is a very large building, dominating a substantial part of the commercial area of Church Road, thereby making a significant impact on the look, feel and character of this part of the District Centre and the adjoining streets.

The building is the best and only example in Crystal Palace of a 1920’s art deco cinema. It has architectural and historical merit, particularly in its detailing.

The proposed alteration to the entrance doors and fanlight above would be detrimental to those details and to the architectural integrity of the building.

Raising the existing canopy by 1344mm and enlarging the existing entrance by destroying the traditional art deco fanlights above the entrance doors to create a new and higher full height modern glazed entrance will destroy the symmetry and architectural form of the building.

One of the unique features of this art deco building is also the geometric surround which frames the entrance. Moving the canopy to sit at the head of the new opening will mean this unique feature will be lost.

Objection Point 5 – Proposed replacement window

The uPVC windows at first floor level are a previous unlawful alteration to the building when it was a bingo hall. They are uPVC replacements which have thick chunky frames and no symmetry or linear connection with the art-deco facade and the decorative raised geometric stucco work. They have no place on an art deco building.

The applicant’s proposal to reinstate the left hand window which is currently blocked seeks to reflect the poor and out of character alterations made to the building by the previous owners.

The proposed changes to the external appearance set out in Objection Points 4 & 5 fail to recognise the importance and heritage of this landmark building and:

a) Do not comply with the provisions of UDP Policy BE11 that any alteration should preserve or enhance the character or appearance of conservation areas, respect or complement the form and materials of existing building and respect and incorporate in the design features that contribute to the character, appearance or historic value of the area

b) Do not comply with the provisions of UDP Policy BE13 that “In commercial parts of conservation areas, the design, form and materials of shopfronts, signs and fascias are acknowledged as making an important contribution to local character and The Council will seek to ensure that a high standard of design and materials is achieved in any replacement shopfront and advertisements in such areas”.

c) Do not comply with the provisions of UDP Policy BE13 that “The retention or reintroduction of traditional features can add significantly to the character and appearance of the host building and the conservation area in general, and will be encouraged”

d) Do not comply with the guidance in the CPP Conservation Area SPG that “As shop fronts are replaced…………………..the Council will encourage the reinstatement of traditional design elements……that are more appropriate to the age and form of the host building.” In this case the age and form is 1920’s Art Deco

e) Do not comply with the guidance in the CPP Conservation Area SPG in that the proposal to use UPVC windows detracts from the character of the conservation area and reinforces existing deterioration caused by the use of such windows i.e. “Some traditionally constructed first and second floor windows have been replaced in aluminium or UPVC. Such alterations have also been detrimental to the character of the area”


Since designating the conservation area, Bromley council has been largely successful in removing the clutter of advertisements along Church Road, including on the former wood yard at the corner of Milestone Road (now flats built by Buxton Homes), the large board on the flank wall of the Crystal Palace Hotel (what is now Noodle Time), and the huge illuminated sign in the grounds of the Grape & Grain at the corner of Anerley Hill. Although having initially refused advertisement consent for the three hoardings fronting 25 Church Road, that decision was overturned on appeal. The residential character of this section of Church Road has also been reinforced by a number of developments involving new build or change of use.

Objection Point 6

The proposed advertisement display board in non-traditional materials, mounted high above ground level on the flank wall of the cinema building, is therefore at complete variance with Bromley’s long-established policy for this area and should be refused because it fails to reflect the architectural integrity of the building and is harmful to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.

Bromley’s supplementary planning guidance for the Crystal Palace Park Conservation Area includes a statement on advertisements:

6.8 The Council wishes to ensure that businesses in conservation areas are fully able to advertise their goods and services. However, it will also wish to reduce the visual clutter that poorly designed and located advertisements can sometimes cause. Advertisements, which require consent, will be restricted to properties, which depend on advertising to carry out their business.

6.9 Advertisements, which, in the Council’s opinion, detract from the character of the area, will be resisted or made subject to discontinuance action where necessary. New and replacement signs should be designed in a way that minimises their adverse impact they should not be displayed at first floor level or above, especially on exposed flank walls. Traditional forms of signage (painted boards or brass plates) are to be preferred over modem forms (such as Perspex or posters). New illuminated advertisements are not felt to be appropriate in streets with an established residential character.


Objection Point 7

Whilst the removal of the three hoardings and landscaping of the space left is to be supported as is the introduction of bicycle stands, the landscaping proposals appear generic and unimaginative and would not contribute successfully to the building’s setting or the general street scene.

The applicant has also failed to provide details for the maintenance and upkeep of the proposed landscape features.


2 Responses to Save 25 Church Road! Your chance to preserve local heritage

  1. Jason Bright September 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    From what I have read from the proposals given by KICC, sickens me. No communication with local council representatives or the local community. Do they not have any regard for other peoples opinions? They certainly don’t have any interest in the architectual merits of this building and it’s original purpose…….a cinema!

    Their lack of communication regarding 25 Church Road, I find ant-social and disrespectful. Also, their proposals for alterations/removal of external features of the this building, acts of vandalism!

    • charlie September 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      We couldn’t agree more Jason. Please do object to the proposals both on moral grounds and planning grounds. Bromley and KICC need to know what we think. Thanks for taking the time to read a rather lengthy post but we wanted to set out all the information for campaign supporters so that people are informed enough to understand why it is important to object.

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